WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2012) -- Subject matter experts from across the Army, combatant commands, Department of State, allied nations, academia and think tanks will meet in Potomac, Md., to examine "How the Army Builds Partners and Capacity to Prevent, Shape and Win," the latest Unified Quest 2012 seminar, Feb. 7 through 10.

Unified Quest is the Army chief of staff's annual future study plan designed to examine issues critical to current and future force development.

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, emphasized the importance of building and strengthening international relationships during a blog entry in December.

"... (O)ur Army must help shape the international environment so our friends are enabled and our enemies contained," Odierno wrote. "We do that by engaging with our partners, fostering mutual understanding through military-to-military contacts, and helping partners build the capacity to defend themselves. This is an investment in our future."

Similarly, President Barack Obama also highlighted the importance of investing in relationships with our allies.

"We're going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again that it's a force multiplier," Obama said.

During this seminar, participants will determine what "shaping" means to the Army and how building partners and capacity contribute to its shaping role. At the heart of the seminar, the participants will determine how the Army provides shaping capabilities required to support country theater teams, theater campaign plans, and joint task forces through all phases of a campaign in 2020.

To accomplish this, the nearly 100 participants will subdivide into four working groups. Each group will look at the effect of shaping operations on a particular vignette. The four vignettes are used to ensure the result is four distinct perspectives of Army operations from major combat operations to humanitarian assistance. Each group will address a central question from the perspective of their specific vignette to develop ideas for a white paper on Army Shaping Operations.

Participants will also provide insights on how the Army should be postured in 2020 to shape the operational environment in support of national security strategy.

At the end of the seminar, senior Army leaders will engage in a discussion with the participants on the insights and recommendations.